U.S. to donate $600,000 in military aid for Cambodia

PHNOM PENH, Jan. 13 (Xinhua) — The United States plans to donate more than 600,000 U.S. dollars in “non-lethal” military aid to Cambodia in 2009, national media on Tuesday quoted U.S. Embassy spokesman as saying.

    The United States expects to give 635,000 U.S. dollars in aid toward countering transnational criminal activities, including anti-drug trafficking and demining programs, John Johnson told English-language newspaper the Cambodia Daily.

    The aid encompasses an estimated 575,000 U.S. dollars in Foreign Military Funding, which is used to buy vehicles, protective gear as well as medical and communication equipment, and about 60,000 U.S. dollars in International Military Education and Training Funding, which is primarily for English-language education, he added.

    The U.S. suspended military aid for Cambodia at the end of last century and lifted the restriction two years ago.

    In 2008, it donated 1.5 million U.S. dollars in peacekeeper training, 1 million U.S. dollars in demining assistance, and nearly 3 million U.S. dollars in other humanitarian programs in the kingdom, according to the embassy.

 
Editor: Deng Shasha
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January 14, 2009 at 9:44 am 4 comments

Cambodian PM makes first Middle East visit

January 13, 2009

PHNOM PENH (AFP) — Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has departed for oil-rich Kuwait in his first-ever visit to the Middle East, aimed at expanding business and trade ties.

Hun Sen was accompanied by a number of high-ranking government officials and business people as he left on the four-day trip on a plane provided by Kuwait.

“This visit will lead to the development in the future between Cambodia and Kuwait, and between Cambodia and other countries in the Middle East,” Foreign Minister Hor Namhong told reporters.

During the visit, officials are scheduled to sign agreements on Kuwaiti technical aid to build a hydro-power plant, irrigation systems and roads in the impoverished Southeast Asian nation, the minister said.

Officials will also agree to direct flights between the two nations to boost tourism, he said. Hor Namhong, who is accompanying Hun Sen, said the premier would also hold discussions about rice, trade exchange and investments.

Kuwaiti premier Sheikh Nasser Mohammed al-Ahmed al-Sabah visited Cambodia and inked trade deals last August, while Phnom Penh is also looking into land-lease agreements with Kuwait.

Kuwait granted Cambodia a 546-million-dollar agricultural loan in August in return for crop production. Impoverished Cambodia has climbed back from decades of civil unrest to emerge as one of the region’s most vibrant economies, attracting increasing foreign investment.

Cambodian officials have also said they hope Middle East governments will help train local experts on the petroleum industry, which is starting to take root after the discovery of offshore deposits.

January 14, 2009 at 9:41 am Leave a comment

Official denies delay of opening Cambodian stock market

PHNOM PENH, Jan. 13 (Xinhua) — A Cambodian official denied media reports that the opening of stock exchange market has been delayed indefinitely due to the worsening global economic slowdown, English-language newspaper the Cambodia Daily said Tuesday.

“We didn’t declare postponement of the stock exchange. I am sure it will open in 2009,” Mey Vann, director of the Department of Finance Industry of the Ministry of Finance and Economy, was quoted as saying.

“We are working on it and there is no delay,” he said, but decline to discuss the exact date.

On Monday, another English-language daily The Phnom Penh Post quoted Mey Vann as saying that “Cambodia has been affected by the global financial crisis, especially in terms of real estate and garment exports. Therefore, the plan to open our own stock market has been postponed, and no specific schedule is set for it.”

The launch of the stock exchange market was originally scheduled for last September, with the South Korean Exchange providing funds and technical support.

As Cambodia’s economy, one of the region’s most vibrant, slowed to single-digit growth last year, the exchange’s future was put in doubt, said The Phnom Penh Post.

Cambodia enjoyed consistent double-digit economic growth rate from 2005 to 2007, which fueled the government’s ambition to upgrade its financial and capital market, and the establishment of a stock exchange market was just one of its major plans in this regard.

 
Editor: Lu Yanan

January 13, 2009 at 6:52 am Leave a comment

Four arrested in Cambodian bomb plot

PHNOM PENH (AFP —  Jan 9.) — Cambodian authorities have arrested four men on suspicion of planting three bombs around the capital last week, a senior police officer said Saturday.

Deputy national police commissioner Sok Phal told reporters that one of the four alleged plotters was 44-year-old Som Ek, a dual Cambodian-Thai national who had previously worked as a Cambodian military policeman.

“He (Som Ek) told the police that his bomb plot was to bring attention to the group inside and outside the country, so he could extort money,” Sok Phal said.

“This is just some kind of business just to rob or extort money,” he added.

He said Som Ek had been arrested on Wednesday and told authorities that his group was backed by people outside Cambodia.

The deputy police commissioner gave no further details on the alleged group or other three suspects.

No one was harmed in the bomb plot in which police found three explosive devices on January 2 planted near the Ministry of National Defence and a television station.

Mine clearance personnel destroyed the bombs later that day.

January 12, 2009 at 1:56 am Leave a comment

Cambodia indefinitely delays launch of stock market

 PHNOM PENH, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) — Cambodia’s much-touted stock exchange market has been delayed indefinitely due to the worsening global economic slowdown, said English-language daily newspaper the Phnom Penh Post on Monday.

Its launch was originally scheduled for September, with the South Korean Exchange providing funds and technical support.

As Cambodia’s economy, one of the region’s most vibrant, slowed to single-digit growth last year, the exchange’s future was put in doubt, said the paper.

“Cambodia has been affected by the global financial crisis, especially in terms of real estate and garment exports. Therefore, the plan to open our own stock market has been postponed, and no specific schedule is set for it,” Mey Vann, director of the Department of Finance Industry of the Ministry of Finance and Economy, was quoted as saying.

“We can’t push to form the stock market, as our economy doesn’t have a solid foundation yet due to the impact of the crisis,” he said.

“Now we will focus our efforts on establishing our economy,” he added.

Cambodia enjoyed consistent double-digit economic growth rate from 2005 to 2007, which fueled the government’s ambition to upgrade its financial and capital market, and the establishment of a stock exchange market was just one of its many plans in this regard.

 
Editor: Wang Guanqun

January 12, 2009 at 1:54 am Leave a comment

PM: Cambodian rice exports to rise by 1 mln tons in 2009

PHNOM PENH, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) — Cambodia’s exports of rice will increase by over 1 million tons in 2009 over the 2 million tons or so in 2008, English-language newspaper the Cambodia Daily on Monday quoted Premier Hun Sen as saying.

Total rice production for the 2008 to 2009 harvest will reach 7million tons and over the next few years, rice exports will reach 3 to 4 tons annually, he was quoted as saying.

More irrigation and education of farmers are needed to continue expanding rice exports, he added.

“Cambodia has the ability to compete and push farmers to plant more rice,” he said, adding that Thailand and Vietnam collectively export 10 million tons of rice per year.

Meanwhile, Cambodian Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Chan Sarun on Sunday said that by 2015, rice exports of Cambodia could reach 8 million tons.

 
Editor: Wang Guanqun

January 12, 2009 at 1:52 am Leave a comment

Cambodian garment industry needs to survive crisis

Special Report: Global Financial Crisis

PHNOM PENH, Jan. 9 (Xinhua) — Garment, the foremost pillar industry of Cambodia, has an urgency to survive its crisis in the upcoming days, amid the ongoing global financial crisis and the recession of traditional demand from the U.S. market.

LESS EXPORT IN 2008

At an annual meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ Federation of Textiles and Apparel (AFTEX) which was held here on Thursday, Cambodian Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh said that the garment industry saw a 2 percent decrease in its export in 2008 over 2007.

“This is better than my own expectation. I thought that it would have been down 5 to 7 percent,” said Van Sou Ieng, chairman of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC).

Previous local reports have attributed it to the withering demand of traditional client countries.

Around 70 percent of Cambodia’s garment products were sold to the United States, 4 percent to Canada and the rest mainly to European countries.

The export volume of the garment industry used to account for over 70 percent of the country’s total annual export volume.

In 2007, garment export earned 2.93 billion U.S. dollars for Cambodia, according to official figures.

CRISIS AHEAD

The garment industry of the kingdom will face a 6- to 9-month-long crisis in 2009, due to lack of profitable orders, Van Sou Ieng said at the AFTEX meeting.

“I think that we will have a crisis 6 to 9 months long this year,” he said.

Due to the global financial crisis, especially the U.S. economic recession, most garment factories could not secure new worthy orders and the current orders could only sustain them until March, he said.

“The crisis has propelled some buyers to give prices too low to be acceptable for the producers, so they have no choice but shut down their factories,” he said.

Over 20 or even more out of the 400-strong garment factories of the kingdom have closed, leading to the unemployment of some 25,000 workers, he added.

Meanwhile, suspension of bank credit also spilled oil over the troubled water of the manufacturers, he said.

ALTERNATIVE MARKET

Japan might become the alternative market for the garment producers of Cambodia, as the demand of traditional purchasers has sharply sagged, said the chairman, adding “currently, Japanese orders are few, because their quality demand is so high that we can hardly meet it.”

Fortunately, Japanese buyers have already listed some suggestions which could help Cambodia improve product quality, he said.

“Two directors, rather than one, supervise the operation of every 10 workers. This is the open sesame that they give us,” he said.

The United States, as the largest buyer of Cambodian garment products, may need 2 to 3 years to cope with its economic recession, so it has become ever more urgent for Cambodian garment producers to find new markets, he added.

The garment factories of Cambodia used to employ some 300,000 people and have been the largest foreign currency contributor for the kingdom.

Garment, as a labor-intensive industry, is well-rooted in Asian countries, which still encompasses China, Vietnam and Indonesia.

January 9, 2009 at 7:32 am Leave a comment

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